Seeds: designed to grow

A new hobby that’s saved my sanity during 2020 has been growing things. I’ve loved gardening outdoors for a few years, and now I’ve gotten into houseplants. Last April I stuck some toothpicks into the side of an avocado pit and perched it atop a cup of water. I waited. And waited and waited. I think the only reason I didn’t toss it in the trash was inertia; it sat motionless in a cup by my sink and I didn’t pay much attention to it. I had read that germination could take several weeks; for me, weeks turned into months.

One day in August (four months later) I was changing the water and noticed the pit had a small crack! A few more weeks passed and I spied a tiny root that was winding its way around the inside of the split pit.

Did you know there is a top and bottom of an avocado pit? I didn’t! Apparently I had the pit upside-down in the glass of water. The poor thing had struggled for months without water at the bottom of the seed! By the time I turned it, the root had already swirled around on top of itself, arduously moving against gravity to make its way toward the nutrients it needed.

Since then, the plant has really taken off. I eventually moved it to a small pot and we have all watched eagerly as the shoot poked through the top and became a sturdy stem. Now it’s January and that stem has grown four inches (doubling its height!) in just two weeks! Tiny green specks unfurled into beautiful maroon leaves at the top. A couple dozen more avocado pits made their way into cups of water near my sink. What a marvelous thing growth is! What a miracle.

Have you watched your child plateau with a certain skill or subject for a season? I have strong convictions about kids thriving in an environment where they can move at their own developmental rate – yet I still struggle when my children move more slowly than I think they should. Whether it’s speech or social skills, drawing or long division, when you have modeled something a dozen ways and it doesn’t seem to stick, it’s easy to feel discouraged.

Sometimes the conditions are not suitable for growth. Maybe the explanations and algorithms are upside-down! Maybe it’s just not the right season. Maybe your kiddo will stay still and quiet for months and then suddenly master something new in weeks or days.

Just like seeds, all learners have dormant seasons that seem to stretch on forever to parents. Sometimes we see growth shoot up when we flip the pit, or add soil and light, or just wait and watch for signals that some unseen magic is happening.

Cultivating a growth mindset in our kids starts with our own beliefs about who they are. They are seeds, hard-wired with the capacity to grow. It is what they were created to do.

When you exhibit patience with your child who isn’t grasping a skill…

When you practice self-control and resist comparing him to your friends’ children…

When you exude calm confidence about his identity and special traits…

…then it will become your default to utter comfort and encouragement when the tears flow. You will find it easier to set aside the assignment for today, or even for this month. Your child will hear you say, “Honey, you were born a learner. You have been doing this your entire life! You will get this someday, too, because that is who you are.”

Maybe you’d like to read about seeds with your kids and consider how like them we are! Here are some titles I like, a mixture of informational text, compelling stories, and fun fiction:

Did you miss the first post of the series? You can find it here.